The best cymbals are cast from bronze alloys which is a mixture
of copper and tin and traces of silver. A common mixture is 80% copper
and 20% tin. There are, however, some cymbals that are stamped, not cast,
in bronze; but these are not as common. The majority of these stamped
cymbals are of lower quality, except for certain brands, such as the Paiste
RUDE line of highquality cymbals. Some cymbals are hand
hammered into their shape, while others are hammered by machine. Purists
generally preferred the handhammered type, which tend to be more
expensive due to the extra labor involved. And after hammering, most cymbals
are then lathed to reach their final thickness and tonality. Lathing is
what leaves those circular grooves in cymbals. Some cymbals aren't lathed,
leaving the darker, nongrooved surface.
Because there are many different sounds and effects available, you should
decide what you want in a cymbal. Here are some factors that influence
the sound of a cymbal.
DIAMETER: The larger the cymbals
diameter, the louder the cymbal.
PROFILE: The higher the profile of
the cymbal, the higher its pitch.
WEIGHT: In heavier cymbals of the
same diameter: pitch is higher, response is slower, and sustain is longer.
The BELL SIZE affects the amount of
overtones. The larger the bell, the more overtones. Hence, bellless
ride cymbals have much less overtones and sound drier than
standard ride cymbals.
THE BASIC CYMBAL TYPES
The Ride cymbal is used usually to sustain the beat. It is usually
played on the middle area or on the bell.
A Crash cymbal is used to punctuate and accent the beat.
A Crash/Ride is a dual purpose cymbal with some characteristics
of both; but also may be used strictly as one or the other according to
HiHats are matched opening and closing cymbals mounted on
a special stand that has a foot petal to raise and lower the top cymbal.
They are used to ride with, and to get a chick sound when
closed without hitting. They are also used to get interesting swish
Chinese cymbals are a cross of a splash and a crash cymbal. They are
usually mounted upsidedown, and have an exiting and explosive
sound; sometimes with a sort of trashcan type effect.
Gongs are usually large traditional instruments, and come in many
types, most of which hang sideways.
A Splash is traditionally small fast crash, sounding like its
namea splash. I like to use splash at a point when a
regular crash is expected but the space
in the next bar has "room" in it sonically, to hear subtleties.
Like if it gets really quiet in the next bar so the sound of the
splash is an "interesting point" that quietly hangs there for
a few beats after... I use a splash other times similar to where I may
use a chinafor the interesting accent. Splashes can also be
used when you're hitting more than 1 cymbal accent in a row like
2 or 3 8th notes in a row2 of them on crashes 1 of them on the splash,
as it has a distinct sound from a crash so you'll make out the separate
notes. Don't overuse! And be careful -splashes
are very fragile compared to other types of cymbalsusing
with a snare (hitting a splash & snare at same time for accent effect)
can lead to drummers hitting it too hard and cracking it too soon.
A sleeve is used to protect your cymbal from getting cracked and worn
down by the stand. They are cheap and available at any music shop, and
are highly recommended to help save your cymbals. Always make sure that
you have proper felt washers to protect your cymbals from hitting metal
on your stands.
When choosing cymbals: don't just
listen to one person's opinion and don't just follow marketing
or hype. Don't just buy something because it looks like it would be a
(like Rude, Z, etc. although they may be what you want. Listen to
different cymbals. Try some
that may not seem like the correct type for you. Looks
can be deceiving. They may end being
exactly what you are looking for. I have a Z series
crash & it was great for certain types of sounds
(industrial, hard, heavy, etc.) Also check out Paiste
Rude. These stamped unlathed cymbals
have a harsher sound than cast & lathed cymbals. Less subtleso
make sure that's what you
want. I also play these and they have a sound you also might like.
If you can't bring your current cymbals in to compare, write
down the model & type & size of
all your cymbals & play them before you go to shop. Try to
remember their sounds (I know
hard to dothink range, decay, brightness, tone, compare to each
other, etc). At the shop try to set up the cymbals close to what you already
own to play against any cymbal you are considering you want your
set to not clash too much, and since $$ is an issue (isn't it always...?)
you don't want to spend money on cymbals that are too similar sounding.
You want to find variety. Alsoyou will be
spending money, so buy at a shop that will let you try them first
and will let you play them against other cymbals.